NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell / Pic: Nic Gibson Source: The Daily Telegraph
PREMIER Barry O’Farrell has broken an election promise to cut government spending on travel by 25 per cent, with secret treasury documents showing spending on travel and accommodation for the state’s bureaucrats has actually increased.
The office of the Premier, who pledged at the state election to use videoconferencing and teleconferencing to reduce expenditure by a quarter, referred the issue to the Treasurer’s Office last night but the documents show an overall increase of about $20 million in government travel spending from 2010-11 to 2011-12.
In the biggest spending department, NSW Health, spending on domestic and international travel and accommodation has risen from $49 million in 2010-11 to $67 million in 2011-12.
The Premier told The Daily Telegraph in 2010 of Labor government spending: “It’s unbelievable that at a time when Labor’s failed area health services were unable to pay bills to small business owners that they could find money to allow bureaucrats to fly first class.”
At the election, his policy document pledged savings of $140 million over four years across the board from cutting travel spending.
A NSW Health spokesman said Treasury had changed its calculations on what constituted travel to include motor vehicle costs so that the line item of spending on travel and accommodation had risen from $49 million to $108 million. He conceded only $41 million included motor vehicle costs and there had been no spending decrease.
Other big spending departments included police – $24 million up from $20 million; Education and Communities – $24 million up from $23 million and Department of Trade and Investment – $13.5 million (down from $14.2 million). Department of Premier and Cabinet spent $6.7 million – down from $8.9 million.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said: “Barry O’Farrell promised to slash spending on bureaucrat travel by 25 per cent but instead it’s gone through the roof.
“The people of NSW didn’t vote for the Liberals and Nationals so they’d increase spending on executives.”